one of my chickens just disappeared

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by roosterpaul, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. roosterpaul

    roosterpaul Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 6, 2011
    Here's what I know:

    They were all in their coop before sundown. I didn't shut the door to their coop because I was out to dinner when it got dark. I got home, did a little cleaning and my mom came over to drop something off. When I ran out to grab the item, I heard my ladies squawking like when they lay an egg during the day. And I heard something running through the woods behind the coop.

    I ran over, and my mother followed. She checks in on them during the day, so she was concerned as well. One was off her roost and the rest were very, very scared, all crammed into the corner. And one, after counting, was missing. There were not a lot of feathers or anything. Also, no tracks that I could see, although it is dark and my flashlight is not huge.

    I noticed two sections of their coop fence were ripped - I have plastic netting on the top that is tied to wire fencing along the perimeter. At one corner of their fence, the plastic netting was ripped down. It was covered with a swampy smelling mud. About a mile from my house, across the street, there is a swamp. At the other section of the fence, 2 horizontal pieces of the fence were torn off, and the whole section of fence was bent in very far and the vertical pieces looked to have been bent like something tried to fit through or rip it apart, like this ( ( ) )

    Any ideas what would or could do that? The footsteps I heard sounded medium to large.

    I'm in Northwest NJ. I have lost birds to foxes and hawks when they were free ranging, but never anything in their coop before.

    Thanks for your thoughts!
     
  2. DelDels

    DelDels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 26, 2011
    Lower Slower Delaware
    Sorry you lost your chicken. Coons can bend and rip wire but usually kill and eat on the spot. Maybe it heard you approaching and carried it's prey away. Coyotes and fox will carry them off too. Whatever it is will be back for more. If you are using just chicken wire you should reinforce it with hardware cloth.

    I have three rows of electric fence on my pens so that predators can not climb or dig. You may want to think about doing the same as it is very affordable and effective. Now that some animal has been successful they may not wait till dark hours to return so stay alert.

    To me this is the hardest part of keeping chickens. There are so many things that want to eat chickens that strong defensive compounds are a must.
     
  3. roosterpaul

    roosterpaul Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 6, 2011
    Thank you for the condolences. I feel so bad, but glad we unknowingly scared it off for the time being. I'm worried about tomorrow. No one will be home all day.

    It is so disappointing when you put all your time and energy into caring for something to have it killed so swiftly! I have lost 4 this year to predators. Mind you, the other 3 were while free ranging. I know I take that risk, but my chickens are happiest free ranging, but in the coop?! I have never had an issue in the coop before. So glad I didn't open up the windows like I thought to do today. I have chicken wire mesh as a screen, but based on the damage it did on the fence, which is a much stronger gauge, it would've been able to tear right through the chicken wire no problem.

    Oy, I've got a lot of work to do! Hope they can make it till I can reinforce everything.
     
  4. DelDels

    DelDels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 26, 2011
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    What ever it was that took your free range birds may have been drawn by those successes to try for the ones in the coup. In any case it might be wise to pen your birds for a while till the predator moves on or you can trap or otherwise remove it. It has learned to rely on your flock for food and will continue to pick off your free rangers.

    Good luck with the fortifications. Don't get discouraged as we are all learning together. This is a great forum for helping each other.
     
  5. mohillbilly

    mohillbilly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    get a trap and set it by your coop
     
  6. highpointfarm

    highpointfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 29, 2012
    Orange County NY
    This sounds like a possum or possibly a fox... set a trap. Also may want to look into automatic chicken coop doors...
     
  7. roosterpaul

    roosterpaul Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 6, 2011
    Thanks everyone! I haven't had a chance to reply this week, but Monday morning when I woke, it had come back, torn the door of my coop and got another one of my flock. The muddy footprints it left all over the side of the coop indicate it was definitely a bear. We have a brief black bear hunting season around here in December and I believe a mother I previously encountered with 2 cubs was killed because I saw the babies on their own shortly after the season ended. Don't know if it was both or if they split up, but the paw prints didn't go higher than my shoulder height and I am 5'3".

    I am down to 5 hens now, and because I couldn't make reinforcements till this weekend, I set up this make shift deterrent: blasting a radio all night long near the coop! I don't have neighbors so it didn't bother anyone but the girls. Not too much, though, because the eggs still came all week!

    I'm still going to do some reinforcements, particularly with the hardware cloth and fencing.

    Thanks again!
     
  8. mohillbilly

    mohillbilly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    if it is a bear nothing you put up will stop it ....only way i know is to kill the bear and the sooner the better or you may find once it gets all your birds it may decide to check out your house.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  9. roosterpaul

    roosterpaul Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 6, 2011
    Well, that's not going to happen! My brother tells me it's a $10k fine and jail time to kill bears out of season. I am going to get a paintball gun and scare the **** out of it, though :)
     
  10. mohillbilly

    mohillbilly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    if the bear is killing livestock it is legally in season...and chickens are livestock
    shooting it with a paintball gun will only make it mad and get it to attack you
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012

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